A Thought

by Shaker and Shakesville Moderator Aphra_Behn

The difficulty of getting reliable news on Japan's crisis has made me think about why, frankly, everything feels so fucked in the US right now.

Thanks to the GOP, quite simply, USians, whether left or right, have no one we can trust.

The GOP has spent years accusing the media of having liberal bias, whilst simultaneously voting in policies that favored increasing conglomeration and corporate control. They have deregulated it to the point that it is now perfectly legal to knowingly report false news. And this week, they had an "emergency" meeting to attempt to finally dismantle public broadcasting. The result? We can't trust the media.

The GOP has spent years dismantling the New Deal-era protections that held Wall Street in check, that forced honest financial accountings from banks and other lenders. They have stripped labor, environmental, and other regulations that once limited the ill effects of industry. They have granted corporations all the rights of persons with none of the responsibilities. They have stripped consumer protections down to "caveat emptor." The result? We can't trust business.

The GOP has spent years claiming that "government isn't the solution" whenever the Democrats are in office, and claiming to be a leaner, more responsible government when they are in office. In practice, this has meant constant obstructionism under Democrats and thinly-disguised corporate giveaways under Republicans. Under Rove, the GOP took the old art of government cover-up to new heights, proclaiming that disastrous failures were "mission accomplished" and a "heckuva job," never backing down from these assertions, EVER, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The result? We can't trust government.

The GOP has spent years meddling with election laws and political funding regulations, while its corporate donors set up think tanks and astroturf organizations. On everything from gay rights to environmental policy, on political campaigns from local to presidential, they deployed these supposed "experts," "neutral parties," and "concerned citizens." With names invoking research councils, veterans organizations, or serious policy experts, these shadowy organziations choke out the voices of those with genuine knowledge as well as true grassroots movements. The result? We can't trust either "grassroots" or "professional" organizations.

The GOP has spent years belittling colleges and universities as little better than Marxist training camps, full of traitors actively plotting to overthrow the nation. Meanwhile, they have pursued educational policies that have slowly siphoned away public funding for education, particularly targeting aid programs for economically disadvantaged students, as well as research funding. Students end up deep in debt, and universities are forced to turn to more private donors and corporations for funding, eroding their appearance of objectivity. The result? We can't trust academe.

So as Japan shakes and its nuclear reactors face a potential disaster that most of us can't begin to understand clearly, we literally have no one, no body, no entity, that we can turn to, and generally agree, "this entity can be trusted."

On both the right and the left, we feel doubt about every "expert." All opinions have become equal, in part because there are no referees, no cops, no one to step above the fray and guide us. And while I'm a big fan of "question Authority," that doesn't mean much where there is no authority left to question.

I'm not so naive as to romanticize the past, but for much of the 20th century, U.S. political society had enough checks and balances built in that despite the Gulf of Tonkin, despite Watergate, despite all the crap and scandals, we had enough trust in at least some institutions that an environmental crisis did not also provoke an existential crisis as we argued over whether "up" actually did mean "down."

It seems as if today, there are not just two sides to every story, there are six, twelve, an infinite number of sides are represented...all but one.


Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus